Starting my PBL Adventure

What is Project Based Learning?

What considerations are important when incorporating a Project Based Learning approach into the classroom?

As educators “jump” into the realm of PBL, this movement itself can lead to pitfalls if tips are not gleaned from veteran PBL educators. Novice PBL teachers will run into issues if they attempt to incorporate PBL as an alternative to all instruction, fail to enforce deadlines or start off with long-term projects rather than a shorter less complex introductory projects (Mergendoller & Thomas, 2005).

A successful PBL project can be defined by the beneficial learning experience created and maintained by all stakeholders.  Research has discovered that successful projects do not happen by mistake, in fact, success hinges on a teachers foresight or willingness to admit missteps and address these with the class mid-project as needed (Mergendoller & Thomas, 2005). As a classroom teacher, I found students responded well when an adult admitted mistakes during a class meeting and invited a classroom culture shift or, in this case, project shift. It is important that a teacher not feel paralyzed by an unsuccessful process and feel empowered to right the misconceptions or correct the now detrimental project process within their own class in real-time.

Another facet to a successful PBL project is for a teacher to manage student engagement and offer opportunities for students to express learning throughout the process (Ertmer & Simons, 2005). This feeds into the types of students that will be successful in PBL environments. These would be students who are exposed to collaborative learning environments and problem-solving opportunities more often. I would argue that all types of students can be successful with teachers who serve as inquiry facilitators. Increased exposure to these types of learning opportunities will create students who are better able to communicate and not only work alongside peers but understand the benefits of collaboration and seek it out.

Feel free to learn alongside me as I work to better my understanding of PBL in the classroom. Check out this great resource: BIE.org


Resources

Ertmer, P. A., & Simons, K. D. (2005). Scaffolding teachers’ efforts to implement problem-based learning. International Journal of Learning, 12(4), 319-328. Retrieved from http://www.edci.purdue.edu/ertmer/docs/Ertmer-LC05.pdf

Mergendoller, J. R., & Thomas, J. W. (2005). Managing project-based learning: Principles from the field (PDF). Retrieved from http://bie.org/images/uploads/general/f6d0b4a5d9e37c0e0317acb7942d27b0.pdf

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